As most of you know, I was on vacation last week. I intended to post this Tuesday, but when I got back, unpacking from camping, catching up on work and all the stuff I’d neglected before and during vacation, and realizing that deadlines I’d pushed back to the end of summer were now less than two weeks away. All to explain why this post is going up on Friday.
While I didn’t get to go to Realm Makers this year, I did end up in St. Louis, MO on the Monday after Realm Makers. A couple of my friends and I took an awesome week-long road trip to Missouri. And, I still got to revisit one of my writing roots.
The year was 1996. I was six years old when my parents loaded up our old Midas motorhome and took my brothers and me to Missouri.
My dad had read the entire Little House series to us, me curled on his lap listening to the rumble of his voice in Pa’s stories and knowing that I was his Half Pint as much as Laura was Pa’s. We’d already visited the replica of the little cabin in the big woods, though it is now a little cabin surrounded by tiny saplings. I don’t remember if we had visited any other sites by that point. I eventually visited all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, the last one in Independence, KS when I was sixteen.
But on this trip, we were stopping at a Laura Ingalls Wilder site not in the books, yet essential to them. I’m talking about Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO, the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wrote the books.
I was six. I was awed in the museum at Pa’s fiddle and a handwritten manuscript. The house was old and huge. The furniture big. The tour boring. I don’t remember anything from most of the house.
But I do remember Laura’s desk. It was big with cubies and space for writing. And there, standing in front of that desk, I made the decision.
I was going to be a published author someday.
The year is now 2015. Nineteen years have passed since I saw that house in Mansfield. Seeing things as an adult is both the same and different.
The wonder at seeing Pa’s fiddle is still the same. Pa’s voice in my head is still my dad’s. I’m still my dad’s Half Pint.
The house is different. It’s smaller. I actually remember the tour through the rest of the house. This time, I see the people and their lives, not just the author and her books.
Laura Ingalls Wilder is smaller. I’m actually taller than her (by a whole inch, but I’m still taller).
And the desk is smaller. My own desk at home could swallow it. It doesn’t look like something big enough to start off a little girl’s hopes and dreams.
Still, I choked up standing there. At six, I’d stood there and decided I was going to be a published author. Nineteen years later, I stood there a couple months after my first book released. A surreal moment.
Nineteen years. A longer road to publication than my six-year-old self could’ve comprehended. I’d thought I’d be published by sixteen or eighteen at the latest (because eighteen year olds are so old when you’re six).
Have you ever read the Little House books? What memories do they bring up?
Do you have a specific memory of the day you knew you wanted to be a published author?
I LOVE the Little House on the Prairie series. My mom read them to me when I was young, probably around six. That started my love of reading.
I don’t have a specific memory, but I do remember four characters that came into my head, and I knew I wanted to write their story someday. They’re still in my head, as they’ve been the last 10+ years, but now I have a story to go with them, so I’ll write it whenever I’m done with my other projects that need to come first.
Being published wasn’t exactly a dream of mine. I thought it would be nice, but it seemed much to far-fetched. And I didn’t even start writing until I was 18, because I didn’t feel like I was ready to write the stories I had in my head. When I was younger, I’d play with my siblings, usually with our Star Wars action figures. I guess I funneled my need to tell stories through that, because I insisted that whatever we played had a plot, not just random playing, haha.
I was just like that too playing with my brothers! The brother closest in age to me and I would get together and plot out what we were going to play, then the youngest two brothers would just have to go along with it. Our playing always had a plot too! I’m glad we were the only weird kids who did that!
My parents used to read the Little House books to me and my sisters when we were little. And we saw some of the Little House stuff when I was five. Like DeSmet and the surveyor’s house and Lake Pepin and the dugout. The dugout is the only thing I remember, all collapsed. I don’t think we went to Rocky Ridge. I want to see it. 🙂 I can’t remember when I first wanted to be a published author, it was so long ago. But I do remember being at Disney World during the Year of a Million Dreams thinking about how they couldn’t make MY dream come true and wishing during their “Wishes” show (fireworks at Magic Kingdom) to be a published author. And here I am!
I was really young when I saw most of the Little House sites too, so many of them are impressions. I remember the cabin because it was so odd to see the Little Cabin in the Big Woods surrounded by saplings that were tiny even to a little kid, and I remember the dugout because it was just a hole in the ground, which was kinda disappointing. I don’t even remember the house in De Smet. I only remember the gift shop there.
That series was such a huge inspiration to me, too. I love this post, I can totally relate! I would LOVE to visit that museum – I had no clue Pa’s fiddle was actually still in existence. I think a very very long road trip from Ontario is in order in my lifetime!
It is a little bit of a road trip, but not too bad. I live in Michigan, so just on the other side of the lake from you. 😉 I hope you get a chance to visit it someday! It is a cool experience.
I have been there as well. It is so tiny.